THIRTEEN MORE FIREFIGHTERS have been suspended by Roscommon Fire Service in addition to the 14 suspended earlier this week, raising concerns about the service’s ability to operate in the county.
The suspensions come amid a dispute that centres on a breathing apparatus (BA) refresher training course which some firefighters have refused to take part in because of concerns over the way in which the course is taught and the requirements to pass it.
Having refused to attend a training course this morning, the 13 firefighters have been removed from the payroll in addition to the 14 firefighters who were suspended on Monday having also failed to attend the course.
It means that there are now around 30 firefighters across six fire stations to service the entire county leading to concerns about the health and safety of the firefighters and the general public.
A spokesperson for the Irish Firefighter and Emergency Services Association (IFESA) told TheJournal.ie this evening: “We would now be seriously concerned for the health and safety for remaining firefighters and citizens of Roscommon.”
However, Roscommon County Council has insisted that it is in a position to deal with emergencies should they arise.
“Arrangements are in place with neighbouring Fire Authorities and arrangements are also in place to mobilise the Defence Forces to provide assistance if required.
“Roscommon County Council is in ongoing contact with the Labour Relations Commission with a view to resolving the issue,” a statement said.
Concerns have been raised by firefighters that fire officers and not firefighters are delivering the BA training and that stringent conditions have been attached to participation in the refresher course which means if the firefighters fail they cannot operate.
Roscommon County Council pointed to a Labour Relations Commission document issued yesterday following a conciliation conference between the council and the trade union, SIPTU, which stated that the training and competency requirements are mandatory.
“The agreement included a requirement for members of staff who do not demonstrate a satisfactory level of competence in any aspect of the course to be referred for further training with a view to bringing their skills up to the standard required,” the council’s statement also said.